Timberwolves Coast To Win Over Shorthanded Nuggets

Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

During the Sunday night NBA slate, the Minnesota Timberwolves had no issues achieving a 128-98 win against the Denver Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back. Nikola Jokic, along with three other Nuggets starters sat. D’Angelo Russell scored 18 points and added 10 assists, while Anthony Edwards scored 20.

During what became the Timberwolves’ seventh win in 10 games, Rudy Gobert scored 16 points. His team pushed forward to build a 20-point lead before halftime, solidifying their outlook to win against a shorthanded Nuggets team.

“We were very business-like,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “Took advantage of the opportunity that was there for us. I think we only had like three or four turnovers in the first half. That’s kind of been important to our focus. And I thought we made a lot of really good plays.”

Aside from Jokic (left hamstring tightness), the Nuggets played without Jamal Murray (left knee injury management), Aaron Gordon (left ankle sprain), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right ankle sprain).

NBA SCORES & NEWS: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets & Minnesota Timberwolves Updates

With 22 points, Michael Porter Jr. led the Nuggets as the only regular starter available to play. Christian Braun capitalized on his opportunity, scoring 19 points. Denver finished with a poor shooting percentage of 39.5 percent from the field with allowing 24 fast break points being a concerning factor.

“Without four starters, you have to almost play perfect to give yourself a chance,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said. “Turnovers fueled their break, 24 fast-break points. Just too many breakdowns on both ends of the floor for us to even have a chance to be competitive tonight.”

With the Nuggets not playing Bones Hyland, they didn’t have a primary ball handler. The consequences of doing so reflect in Denver’s 14 of 21 overall turnovers in the opening half alone, resulting in the Timberwolves scoring 32 points off turnovers in the game.

“We’re just playing free and easy but, obviously, a little bit too free and a little bit too easy, at times,” Malone said.

NBA SCORES & NEWS: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets & Minnesota Timberwolves Updates

From the start, the Timberwolves were intentional about not allowing themselves to get taken by surprise against a short-handed squad. The Timberwolves’ most impressive stretch featured a 25-5 run in the opening half to set the tone.

“In games like these, you kind of play down to the competition,” Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels said. “So, just made it seem like all their starters were out there and just playing with aggression.”

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